Firouzja Beats So, Joins Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa In 2nd Place


A powerful victory against GM Wesley So brought GM Alireza Firouzja into joined second place at the Superbet Chess Classic Romania, which resumed on Tuesday following a rest day. After the sixth round, GM Fabiano Caruana continues to lead by half a point as he drew with GM Ian Nepomniachtchi.

The games GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu vs. GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac, GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov vs. GMs Anish Giri and GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs. GM Gukesh Dommaraju also ended in draws.

Round seven starts Wednesday, July 3, at 8 a.m. ET / 14:00 CEST / 17:30 p.m. IST.

Superbet Chess Classic Romania Round 6 Results

Superbet Chess Classic Romania 2024 Round 6 Results
Image courtesy of the Saint Louis Chess Club/Grand Chess Tour.

Superbet Chess Classic Romania Standings After Round 6

Superbet Chess Classic Romania 2024 Standings After Round 6
Image courtesy of the Saint Louis Chess Club/Grand Chess Tour.

At a press conference on the rest day, GM Garry Kasparov tried to support the local football fans a bit in anticipation of their Euro 2024 match with the Netherlands on Tuesday, noting that “even the strongest teams sometimes suffer defeat.” This author is writing these words shortly after that match, and with a smile: even the strongest teams sometimes win convincingly.

Firouzja-So

Speaking of winning convincingly, that was surely the case for Firouza, who got an advantage right out of the opening and left So without a chance today. Taking into account the strong preparation and execution on the board, you could call it a game in the style of Kasparov.

The Boss himself, on his last day in Bucharest, called it “AlphaZero chess” after noting the opening was both old-fashioned (GM Friedrich Sämisch’s 4.a3 against the Nimzo-Indian) and modern (Firouzja’s 8.c5 and 9.Rb1).

Firouzja was surprised about So’s 10…c5 and thought it might have been a mixup of (what he remembered of his) preparation. The French GM was happy with his 12.Bf4 move after which he was basically cruising to victory. Here’s the game with notes by GM Rafael Leitao:

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

Firouzja So Bucharest 2024
A win after an “AlphaZero” opening: Firouzja vs. So. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Caruana ½-½ Nepomniachtchi

“These two players know each other so well, they have so much respect for each other,” said GM Christian Chirila before the start of the round. In 17 games, Caruana and Nepomniachtchi had traded just one win and drawn 15 times. A 16th peaceful outcome followed today and very quickly.

Caruana started with 1.Nf3, which spurred another commentator, GM Yasser Seirawan, to comment: “If I’m in Ian’s shoes right now I feel good already. This is a moral victory. You don’t have a way of getting an advantage against the Petroff. I forced you to do something off the beaten track.”

The opening became a Symmetrical Fianchetto Grunfeld and, as Chirila revealed after speaking to his friend Caruana, the latter forgot to look at some lines so “decided to tame the position and pull the breaks early on.”

Caruana Nepo Bucharest 2024
A quick draw in Caruana vs. Nepomniachtchi. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Abdusattorov ½-½ Giri

After Giri finished his game he was asked whether he was going to watch the football. He said yes, adding that he needed to “find a safe space” as he was “in the middle of the enemy’s camp.” That was understandable, since he had dressed for the occasion during the round, wearing an orange shirt under his Optiver-branded jacket.

In the game, the Dutchman was always safe as he got the chance to use a good setup against Abdusattorov’s 6.Qd3 Najdorf which involved a kingside fianchetto for Black. He equalized with 17…b5 and although the game lasted 95 moves (partly because offering a draw is not allowed at this tournament), the result was never in doubt. 

Anish Giri orange shirt
Anish Giri supported the Dutch squad today. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Gukesh

Just like he is sort of the Last of the Mohicans to play the white side of the Berlin Endgame, Vachier-Lagrave also doesn’t mind going into the Marshall Attack of the Ruy Lopez. He managed to confuse Gukesh on move 18, when the world championship candidate took a 44-minute think.

Vachier-Lagrave kept a slight edge in the endgame nonetheless but even though he was short on time later on, Gukesh once again showed fantastic defensive skills. Afterward, he commented on the news that his match with GM Ding Liren will be in Singapore:

“I’m super happy to play in Singapore. I mean I was fine with playing anywhere, but Singapore… I have some very nice memories. I won one of my first international tournaments in Singapore and I’ve been on some nice family vacations there. It’s a very nice place and I’m very eager to go there and play the match.”

I’m super happy to play in Singapore. I mean I was fine with playing anywhere, but Singapore… I have some very nice memories.
—Gukesh Dommaraju

Vachier-Lagrave Gukesh Bucharest 2024
More good defense from Gukesh vs. Vachier-Lagrave. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Praggnanandhaa ½-½ Deac

Deac continues to play a good tournament with a draw against Praggnanandhaa today where he had the slightly better chances. The game was a Nimzo-Indian, but at some point looked more like a King’s Indian where White had to do without a dark-squared bishop. Especially after finding the idea connected to 25…Bc1! it was Deac who was pressing a bit.

Praggnanandhaa Deac Bucharest 2024
Praggnanandhaa vs. Deac. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The 2024 Superbet Chess Classic Romania is the second leg of the 2024 Grand Chess Tour. The event is a 10-player round-robin with classical time control (120 minutes for the entire game, plus a 30-second increment per move). The tournament runs June 26-July 5 and features a $350,000 prize fund.


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